Nobody's perfect, but perfectionism is a virtue -- right? Great athletes, star CEOs, and Nobel laureates embody it. But where does the perfectionist tendency lead? Great success for some -- but then there are the crazy bosses, pushy parents, and high-striving students on the edge of a breakdown.
New research on perfectionism reveals that the urge to get things just right can go too far. It's linked with compulsive behavior, eating disorders, and depression. The perfect, it turns out, really is the enemy of the good -- or, at least, of good health.
There are a number of things which make perfectionism bad for one's physical and mental health. The first is relentlessness. When is enough, enough? Second, is the failure to enjoy one's successes because there is always more that could have been done or some other aspect that could be improved on. Third, is the toil that one's perfectionism takes on others when anxiety and tension escalate if things aren't just right. Fourth, is what I call catastrophizing, that is, when the sky is constantly falling and the person is living in constant agitation and fear over small things making a tempest our of a teapot, and/or a mountain out of a molehill.
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